By Rabbi Shloimie Lindenbaum
כי תבאו אל הארץ…וקצרתם את קצירה…ובקצרכם את קציר ארצכם (פרק כג פסוק י-כג)
In the Torah’s description of the ימים טובים we find the מצוה that takes place on the second day of פסח. Being the beginning of the harvest season, the Torah commands that the first barley harvest should be for the purpose of the קרבן עומר and that none of that year’s harvest should be eaten until the קרבן is brought. The פסוק continues with the מצוה of counting the עומר until the יום טוב of שבועות when we bring the first offering of wheat from the new harvest. After that the Torah reiterates the מצוות of לקט (leaving the fallen sheaves for the poor) and פאה (leaving the corners of field for the poor) even though they were already said in last week’s Parsha. The משך חכמה explains that Hashem was concerned that we would get too involved in our everyday work and become too earthly of a people- losing sight of our true goals in life. He therefore commanded us that at the beginning, middle, and end of gathering our crops we have מצוות to remind us that we are here to serve Hashem and that even our daily work is a means to serve Him. Hence, the מצוות of עומר and שתי הלחם at the beginning, לקט in the middle, and פאה at the end. The מצוות of לקט and פאה specifically are chosen because they imbue us with compassion and mercy which are key attributes in obtaining true happiness and connection to Hashem.
וסמכו כל השומעים את ידיהם על ראשו (פרק כד פסוק יד)
The Parsha ends with the story of the מקלל- the one who blasphemed the name of Hashem and was punished with death through stoning. The פסוק says that before killing him, the witnesses and judges must lay their hands on his head. Rashi says that this is to signify that they are not responsible for his death, rather he brought it upon himself. The מהר”ל says that this practice is unique to the stoning of one who curses Hashem because the sin that he did is in some way worse than any other. By every other sin, however bad, there is a part of the person that was ruined by it, and a part that remains intact. By the מקלל, however, he attacked and damaged the main core of a person, he essentially ruined his entire person and has nothing left of himself. That’s why, specifically by this sin, the judges and witnesses can say that they had no hand in his death- he brought death upon himself by ruining his essence.